New York City’s former mayor flirted – again – with a presidential bid in 2020, then decided against it. But he’s still taking on President Donald Trump and funding efforts to combat climate change and enact more stringent gun control laws – and as New York’s wealthiest person, the billionaire businessman has the means to do so. This year, congestion pricing, which Bloomberg championed as mayor, finally passed, while Hudson Yards, the megadevelopment he set in motion, finally opened.
The 2019 Manhattan Power 100; 6 - 35
The 2019 Manhattan Power 100; 6 - 35
Liz Krueger, the Upper East Side political veteran, has been an intellectual heavyweight in the state Senate Democratic conference for nearly two decades. She was a driving force in cleaning the caucus of what she called “bad apples” and building the majority that’s now in place. As state Senate Finance Committee chairwoman, she wields tremendous influence over the budget process. She championed sexual harassment reforms, fell short on legalizing recreational marijuana and remains outspoken on illegal Airbnb listings.
If anyone capitalized on all-blue Albany this year, it was Brad Hoylman. The only openly LGBT state senator passed bills protecting transgender rights, banning gay conversion therapy for kids and ending the “gay panic” legal defense. The lawmaker passed the Child Victims Act, ended religious exemptions from vaccines and made the president’s state tax returns available to Congress. But he pushed for two high-profile bills that fell short: a pied-à-terre tax and legalizing gestational surrogacy.
New York City is booming and Kathryn Wylde wants to keep it that way. She specializes in making connections among the city’s political, labor and business elites – and knows how to get New York’s powerful figures to return her phone calls. Considering her extensive Rolodex and in-depth understanding of the nation’s largest city, it’s no wonder many turned to Wylde to figure out what to do after the failed deal to bring Amazon to Queens.
If you have spent even a little time in Manhattan, chances are you’ve been inside a building owned by Vornado Realty Trust – one of New York City’s biggest landlords. In addition to leading a real estate empire with over 20 million square feet of office and retail space, Steven Roth has deep political ties. He has contributed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and served as an economic adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
If you were casting a member of Congress to represent Manhattan’s East Side, you’d probably just end up with Carolyn Maloney. The graceful political veteran has served in Congress for more than 20 years, securing funding for infrastructure projects and fiercely advocating for progressive policies like gun control and women’s health. After surviving a primary battle in 2018, Maloney seems to have a bounce back in her step.
While the Manhattan economy has become increasingly diversified over the years, the financial services sector is still a pillar of the borough’s economic stability. With the federal government still lacking in its ability to keep the industry honest, New York state has stepped up its role and Linda Lacewell is leading that charge. The Department of Financial Services is also on the forefront of cybersecurity, a growing concern among businesses and government.
Cyrus Vance Jr. has come under fire in recent years for his failure to prosecute Harvey Weinstein and the children of President Donald Trump, while exacting unusually harsh punishments on New York City’s poor defendants. But criticism comes with the territory at the Manhattan DA’s office. In the past nine years, Vance has racked up an impressive record of convictions, playing his part in keeping crime in the borough at historic lows.
This legislative titan is the longest-serving member of the Assembly. Richard Gottfried’s commitment to commuting from midtown Manhattan to Albany for more than 40 years has paid off as much of the state has finally caught up to his progressive positions on legalizing marijuana, providing single-payer health care and reforming the juvenile justice system. As chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, Gottfried wields tremendous power over one of New York’s biggest industries.
In May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi tweeted “any one legislator have more W’s this year than Assembly Member @DeborahJGlick?” The first openly gay or lesbian state lawmaker, Deborah Glick champions women’s and LGBTQ rights and monitors CUNY and SUNY. She was in the middle of two big legislative fights this session: scholarships for families of military members killed in the line of duty and blocking the legalization of gestational surrogacy.
The New York Times is the gold standard for journalism across the globe, but don’t overlook the influence it has in its own backyard. The newspaper is the most read by Manhattanites. Its endorsements still carry weight. Its editorials drive New York City and state lawmakers to action. While A.G. Sulzberger is only in his second year as publisher (following in his father’s footsteps), he has already established himself as a trusted steward of the Gray Lady.
The lower Manhattan politician left the Assembly in 2017 to seek an open state Senate seat, moving at the time from the majority conference to the minority. But then Democrats secured control of the upper chamber in the 2018 elections and Kavanagh was tapped to be the chairman of the powerful Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee. In that role, he was in the middle of one of the most contentious issues of the session – rent regulations.
Adriano Espaillat made history in 2016, when he became the first Dominican-born member of Congress after winning a heated Democratic primary. But despite running unopposed in the 2018 Democratic primary, Espaillat has yet to solidify the party factions in his Upper Manhattan district, making him vulnerable in future elections. Still, he’s used his position to be a fierce advocate for immigrants and a blistering attack dog against President Donald Trump’s policies.
Following in the footsteps of his father, an innovative Manhattan Criminal Court judge, Keith Wright is a power broker in his own right. While Manhattan has no party machine like some boroughs, little happens politically without the former Harlem assemblyman’s input. Wright is also a lobbyist at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, working alongside Senior Partner Sid Davidoff, who got his start working for then-Mayor John Lindsay and is an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Since the former New York City Council speaker lost her mayoral bid in 2013 (she would have been both the city’s first female mayor and its first openly gay mayor), Christine Quinn has kept a busy schedule and a high profile. She leads a nonprofit, frequently serves as a political commentator and is a fierce advocate for LGBTQ issues. Her decision to remain in the spotlight makes many speculate she is still eyeing Gracie Mansion.
If you ask political insiders who will be the next Manhattan borough president, Mark Levine’s name seems to always pop up. While he may not be the front-runner, the Upper Manhattan councilman is definitely someone you can’t ignore. As the chairman of the New York City Council Health Committee, he’s pushed for the expansion of health care coverage, educating city residents about the importance of vaccinations and cracking down on e-cigarettes.
As the chairwoman of the New York City Council Committee on Women and Gender Equity, Helen Rosenthal has been instrumental in strengthening sexual harassment laws in the city. The Upper West Side lawmaker played a pivotal role in last year’s Sexual Harassment in NYC Act. This year, Rosenthal is proposing a bill that would create an Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention. And in a couple years, she may be touting that record in a run for city comptroller.
The former New York City comptroller and mayoral candidate stays busy. He is a senior managing director and chief administrative officer at the investment firm Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., chairs the CUNY board of trustees and served on the state legislative pay commission. It must have been a relief when Thompson found Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, a CUNY veteran who was then the president of Queens College, to fill the CUNY chancellor opening.
An accomplished chemist before taking the reins at New York University, Andrew Hamilton has invested in the school’s research facilities and taken steps to make tuition and living expenses more affordable during his three years in charge. While NYU has campuses all over the world, the university’s heart is still an ever-growing 230-acre campus in Greenwich Village, where tens of thousands of students and faculty create a booming economy that drives the popular Manhattan neighborhood.
During his 17-year tenure as head of Columbia University, First Amendment scholar Lee Bollinger has built a remarkable legacy. He oversaw the creation of the new Manhattanville campus, developed a reputation as a thought leader on immigration and free speech, and has grown Columbia into a leader in climate change research. More recently, Columbia partnered with former President Barack Obama to produce an official oral history of his years in the White House.
The Manhattan skyline has been transformed over the past few decades, and Suri Kasirer has been a major player in much of this renewal. Her consulting and lobbying firm rose to prominence under the Bloomberg administration and remains one of New York City’s go-to firms for real estate developers seeking to navigate the city’s regulations. Kasirer’s record of success is unrivaled – and it doesn’t look like she is slowing down anytime soon.
In Manhattan, power revolves around real estate. And many of the biggest developers in the borough rely on James Capalino and his associates to navigate city government and local community boards in order to make sure their projects become reality. While Capalino’s work extends to all corners of the five boroughs, he is particularly influential in Manhattan, where he’s marshalled several projects to completion since Bill de Blasio was elected mayor.
These days, the accomplished political operative is better known as the father of world-famous “Hamilton” actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. Yet his career as an activist (he was the founding president of the Hispanic Federation) and as a trusted adviser to mayors, governors and U.S. senators for decades has established him as a power broker in Manhattan. Along with his partner, Roberto Ramirez, Miranda has built MirRam into an extremely effective consulting firm.
Google just keeps growing in New York City, and much of that is thanks to William Floyd. The government and business affairs veteran heads up the tech giant’s interactions with city and state regulators and develops strategic partnerships with community leaders and institutions – including the newly created digital monument remembering the Stonewall riots. For those unable to visit the “Stonewall Forever” monument in the West Village, the digital version is now available on iOS and Android.
If you want to see a list of “who’s who” among influential Manhattanites, simply scroll through the clients represented by Rubenstein, a strategic communications and public relations firm that has been a New York City mainstay for more than 60 years. Steven Rubenstein, who runs the firm founded by his father, is also the chairman of the Association for a Better New York.
Northwell Health continues to expand its presence in Manhattan – with major upgrades to Lenox Hill Hospital as well as new additions to the hospital campus. Michael Dowling, who has been at the helm of the health care company since 2002, is no stranger to politics. He served as state health director and deputy secretary to then-Gov. Mario Cuomo. The Irish-born executive is also a national thought leader, last year releasing an optimistic book about the future of health care.
This ex-Bloomberg campaign manager and ex-Schumer communications director was one of the key figures supporting Uber’s rise in New York City through his early investment and strategic political guidance. Bradley Tusk’s company does a little of everything, including philanthropy and venture capitalism, but he made the Manhattan Power 100 list for his powerhouse political consulting campaigns. Some of the world’s biggest companies go to Tusk for advice on how to grow their business in Manhattan.
Greenberg Traurig is one of the biggest law firms in the world, with offices all over the globe, but in New York City they are known as the go-to legal experts on land use issues. When it comes to navigating the city’s development regulations, nobody knows the technical details like Ed Wallace. The former New York City councilman, whose clients include some of the city’s biggest universities, has been instrumental in greenlighting dozens of real estate projects throughout Manhattan.
Has any ex-Bloomberg aide shaped the landscape of New York City more than Dan Doctoroff? A major player behind the Hudson Yards project, Doctoroff now heads up Sidewalk Labs, a tech startup seeking to make urban areas more efficient and livable. In addition to pushing to make Manhattan a “smart city,” he’s also one of the borough’s biggest cheerleaders. His latest book, “Greater Than Ever: New York’s Big Comeback,” details the city’s post-9/11 renewal.
Since taking over as CEO of SL Green Realty Corp. in 2004, Marc Holliday has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, founder Stephen L. Green, and maintained the real estate investment trust’s impressive growth. The firm is singularly focused on New York City and is one of the largest landlords in Manhattan, with high-profile projects like East Midtown’s One Vanderbilt. Holliday has been pursuing an aggressive share buyback program and selling properties to finance new developments.
Correction: Steven Rubenstein is no longer on the board of the 92nd Street Y.